Frequently Asked Questions

What programs and degrees does CMES offer?

AB/AM in Regional Studies—Middle East: Harvard College students with Advanced Standing may apply to pursue advanced work in Middle Eastern studies as part of their fourth undergraduate year. The joint AB/AM degree option allows students to earn independent bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time. More details are available from the Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Education.

Master's (AM) in Regional Studies—Middle East: A two-year program that awards a terminal master’s degree in Regional Studies—Middle East. Students complete sixteen courses, including four semesters of instruction in a Middle Eastern language. Students have the option of writing a thesis. 

Joint PhD Programs in Middle Eastern Studies: CMES offers three joint PhD programs in Middle Eastern Studies and Anthropology, History, or History of Art & Architecture. In addition to coursework and comprehensive exams, PhD students develop a high proficiency in at least one Middle Eastern language and complete a dissertation based on original research.

When is the application deadline for CMES AM and PhD programs?

You will find application deadlines and information, including letters of recommendation, GRE, English Proficiency, and Transcripts, on the GSAS website.

What are the application requirements for CMES graduate programs?

Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution (or a satisfactory equivalent), a superior undergraduate record, and other indications of promise.  Knowledge of a modern Middle Eastern language is not a prerequisite but will be taken into consideration as will all previous experience in the Middle East.

All prospective students must apply using the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) online application. In addition to the online application, requirements include three letters of recommendation, official verification of GRE or TOEFL scores, and an official transcript from all post-secondary schools attended. Students from the UK should have their post-secondary institutions issue a transcript that indicates whether they received a first or second degree.

Applicants should see the Prospective Student section of the GSAS website for more information and a link to the online application.

Please note that applicants to CMES joint PhD programs need only to complete the GSAS online application to Middle Eastern Studies. There is no separate application to the joint department.

You must take the GRE in order to be considered for admission to the graduate programs at CMES. (Submitted scores must be from a GRE test taken within the previous five years.) Please make sure to take the GRE in a timely fashion so that your scores can be submitted by the application deadline. GMAT scores, LSAT scores or any other test scores may not be substituted for GRE scores.

Applicants whose native language is not English and who do not hold the equivalent of a US Bachelor’s degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must submit scores from the Internet-based test (IBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The GSAS Application Instructions provide more information.

Is a writing sample required for applications to CMES programs?

No, a writing sample is not required for application to either the AM or PhD programs.

Is there a minimum GRE, TOEFL, or GPA score required for admission? What is the average GPA/GRE score of admitted students?

No, there are no minimum scores required for admission to CMES programs. Additionally, CMES does not have data available on the average GPA or GRE of incoming or admitted students. The admissions committee takes into account a student’s complete academic profile in the admissions process.

What level of proficiency in a Middle East language is required for admission?

There are no minimum language requirements for admission to CMES graduate programs.  However, most applicants to PhD programs have completed previous training in a relevant Middle Eastern language.

Does CMES offer financial aid?

Funding for AM students is extremely limited. Prospective AM students who are United States citizens or permanent residents may be eligible for FLAS funding. Other financial aid options for AM applicants are listed here.

Those accepted to the PhD programs can expect a full support package. Details are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) website.

What can I do with a Master’s degree from CMES?

CMES AM Graduates 2004-11 - Career PathsCMES AM students enter a variety of fields and employment settings after graduation. Many students continue their education in a PhD or JD program, some gain employment with NGOs, the government, or as business consultants, some return to the military, and others travel to the Middle East region as Fulbright scholars.

CMES works with the Harvard Office of Career Services to assist students in their search for post-graduate opportunities. We have also organized career workshops with CMES alumni and other professionals working in various fields.


For additional information, please explore the Academic Programs section of this website and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Admissions Overview. Further questions about the academic aspects of CMES programs may be addressed to Carol Ann Litster.